John William Pyle

Staff Sergeant
Army of the United States
23 September 1947 - 14 February 1968
Chicago, Illinois
Panel 39E Line 038


Combat Medic

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign


The database page for John William Pyle

22 July 2001

For William's family and friends
from someone who remembers.

E-mail address is not available.

17 August 2001

It wasn't until the last 173rd Reunion in Fort Worth that I learned Sergeant Pyle's name. He was only with the 4.2" mortar platoon a couple of days when he was killed. We'd set up in what used to be a 175 or 8 inch artillery fire support base and felt fairly secure. The NVA hit us hard with mortars and sappers broke into the perimeter. The 4.2" mortars couldn't fire close enough and the 105's couldn't use their beehives. I manned the 81mm mortar and when the smoke cleared came back into the platoon area. It was then that I found the bunker had received a direct hit to its exit. Sgt. Pyle must have been in the doorway when the round hit. He was in bad shape. I gave him first aid, clearing his airway, covering the chest wound with plastic, and staunching the bleeding but he went into convulsions and died. I never knew his name until this summer but he's been a part of me for over thirty years.

Sergeant John Pyle came to the 4.2" Mortar Platoon from Charlie Company as did our Platoon Leader 1LT Ed Kelly. Ed knew him prior to his coming to my platoon.

I plan on getting to the Wall this year to take a rubbing of his name to take home with me.

John William Schulte

24 August 2001

My medic, my brother-in-arms, my true friend -
I have missed you, Doc!

1LT Edward L. Kelley

31 August 2001


I remember you -
You used to come to my house
And while the rest of us were out playing
You would sit in my room
And read all my comic books

I remember you -
You used to go to my school
And while the rest of us were dating
You would sit quietly in the back of the room
And read everyone else's comic books

I remember you -
You went into the army
And while the rest of us were killing
You quietly set about saving lives
And had no time for comic books

I remember you -
You were the first to not make it back
And while I cried the day I heard
You quietly became a hero
And had no time for comic books

I remember you -
You were the one we called Hans
And while the rest of us came home
You quietly became a part of us
And we aged too much for comic books

I remember you -
You were my friend and classmate
And while it's been many years now
You are quietly in our hearts
Perhaps I'll read a comic book today.

I remember you.
- Randy Pruden -

From John's twin brother,
William J. Pyle
320 N Linden Street, Itasca, IL 60143
15 Feb 2008


Today is the 40th anniversary of your death. It is hard to believe that that much time has passed. It seems like just yesterday we were kids without a worry in the world.

I remember collecting pop bottles so we could go to the movies and riding our bikes. As we got older there was Sea Scouts. I remember the time we were out rowing on Lake Michigan and you decided to jump overboard to see if your life jacket would actually keep you afloat. Nobody trusted those old relics after that. Then there were the canoe trips in the boundary waters of Minnesota. There were cars and girls and just hanging out. We had a lot of fun growing up. Unfortunately we grew up just in time for Vietnam. We were not legally old enough to drink or vote but we were old enough to go to war.

Your adventures in the Army were always good for a laugh. I remember after jump school you were telling me about the time your chute fell and wrapped around your feet. I excitedly asked, "What did you do then?" Your response was, "I nonchalantly bent over and unwrapped the chute from my feet, shook it out and threw it up over my head". Sorry bro, but I don't ever remember you doing anything nonchalantly. If you had used the words "panic stricken" the story would have been believable. Then there was the letter home saying the Army was going to make you a medic. Everybody had a good laugh at that one. Some sort of mechanic yes, a medic, no way. Even you described yourself as being as graceful as a pregnant gazelle, but somewhere along the way the Army took the boy I grew up with and made him a man. I am sorry I didn't get to know the man as well as I knew the boy.

I visited your grave today. It was a typical February day in Chicago, cold and gray. It was the first time since we buried you so I had to go to the cemetery office for directions. They showed me a map but because the cemetery was covered with a blanket of frozen snow and the fact that you have a flat head stone they thought it was highly unlikely that I would find it. I had forgotten that you were buried under a pine tree and as I stumbled around in the snow there was your headstone without a speck of snow on it, the long branches shielding it from the elements.

I brought lunch. I set my chair up under the tree and ate a "Johnny Pyle signature sandwich", liver sausage spread on a half loaf of Italian bread, no butter, no mayo, no mustard and a bottle of RC cola. The sun peeked through the clouds occasionally as I sat there and the winds were light. It was peaceful there under that tree.

All of us struggle at some point in time with the question, "Why did God put me on this earth?" I haven't figured out my purpose yet, but I know for me, John's purpose was to introduce me to the girl I married. Our paths would have never crossed without John. For that, John, I will be eternally grateful.

Thanks, John, for being my friend and for inspiring me all of these years.

Miss you,

From a life-long friend and Vietnam veteran,
Richard Smith

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The 2nd Bn, 503rd Infantry lost two men on 14 Feb 1968 - 1LT Frank J. Schap, C Company, from Baltimore, Maryland, and SSG John W. Pyle, HQ Company.

Visit John Dennison's
Medics on the Wall
memorial which honors the
Army Medics and Navy Corpsmen who died in Vietnam.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 22 Jul 2001
Last updated 08/10/2009